The sounds of the music filling the gymnasium, the excitement of the crowd, the feeling of accomplishment when the routine ends. These are the memories Eastchester High School Varsity Cheerleaders are taking away from their competitions this school year.
They finished the season earning fourth place in the State Championships held at the Rochester Institute of Technology in early March, and 13th place in the Game Day Competition at UCA’ s National High School Cheerleading Championships held in February at Disney World, facing approximately 60 teams.
“Cheerleading takes a lot of work and dedication. You have to make sacrifices and miss things but when you hit a routine, it is the best feeling in the world,” said senior and Captain Tori Fiteni.
Her Co-Captain junior Marisa Gizzo echoed her sentiments, “When you are cheering you forget everything else and just cheer. We have become so close, like a family.”
This year the squad faced a new challenge - competing in both Game Day and Traditional Cheerleading. The Game Day style requires the team to simulate the sideline of a football game, whereas, “Traditional Cheerleading routines are more intricate and are much more elaborate than stunting, tumbling and pyramid styles that you see during Game Day cheerleading,” said Coach Samantha Kearns.
“I am so proud,” Kearns continued. “The dedication that the high school students are willing to give when they have this passion creates a sense of community.”
The cheerleaders train year round, five days a week, two hours a day, during the season and twice a week during the off season. The competition is fierce and there is no guarantee that a team which made the tournaments in the past will return every year.
Kearns manages the team with fellow coaches Stephanie Leone, and cheerleading alumni Sandra Tamburro and Alyssa Massi.
While the goal of the team was to make the top ten at Nationals, there are no regrets. “The lesson sometimes is that you work really hard to reach a goal and sometimes you don’t achieve it, but there is value in that too,” said Kearns.Beginning this week, all middle and high school students can participate in Open Clinics on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons to learn routines and stay active.